amUX Town Hall (May 5, 2021)

We’ve missed our community, and we’re excited to get ready to welcome everyone back. We’ve had a lot of time to think about what a meetup looks like after a global crisis and are ready to come back not only as the inclusive event you know and love, but to push forward into becoming one that’s also fully accessible. This means that no matter where you are, who you are, or when you are, you’ll be able to enjoy talks and engage in the community.

Join us Wednesday, May 5th, for an amUX town hall where we’ll share more of our plans and commitments, and discuss as a community how we can be a model for events and meetups everywhere.


Cliff: Welcome to amUX. We’re really, really excited to be back. It’s been a minute since we met together. There are some reasons for that. We want to talk about that today. And we also want to talk about why we’re back and why things are different for us and why, quite frankly, why amUX matters to us so much as a community, as an event and as an idea. And we have worked together on a bit of an evolution of it, and we’re really excited to kind of kick it off, starting with today, where mainly what we want to do is share what we’ve done together as co organizers to think about the future of amUX and to talk about some of the changes that we’re proposing to really make amUX a more collaborative community, but also to push way further into our charters of being inclusive and equitable to everyone and quite literally accessible everywhere that we can be so that as many people can be a part of this community as humanly possible. We have always and I think you’ve especially heard this, if you happen to be able to join us for our five year anniversary a while back, but we’ve always aimed specifically to be a very inclusive community in. But physical meet ups have been a really important part of that. We understand the power and value I think we all do after this last year of really literally physically getting together with other people, especially people that you know and people that you trust and people that you can learn from. And so we’ve always aimed to be inclusive, starting with the fact that that was part of the reason why amUX was a part of the idea to begin with was to make sure that we can meet at a time where, for instance, parents could join or for people who didn’t feel as comfortable around alcohol, we’re not going to serve mimosas at amUX or currently have no plans to.

Cliff: So we’re kind of creating a more inclusive environment and some of those ways. And so to us, not only design itself, but the city that we’re in Atlanta, our community, our neighborhoods, and even the physical building that we meet and are all really meaningful parts of amUX. One thing we obviously didn’t do as covid kind of rolled out in twenty twenty. We didn’t just immediately start doing digital bits. We made a really conscious decision together. We checked each other a lot on it, but we made a really conscious decision to just wait and see how things unfolded, especially since we noticed that there was just like this firehose of digital events that we’re spending up. And so we didn’t want to just kind of jump into it without really thinking through what we’d like for that to look like and how we can ensure that we could pass that kind of exclusivity onto this idea. So we’re doing something new. And one of the things I want to start with, you’re going to hear from from everybody on the call here in just a minute. But just want to reintroduce myself and Michael and Pejeta here. So my name is Cliff Seal. I have helped organize amUX for a really long time now, and it’s been a really awesome part of what I do. I get to go organize with these two people that I call friends. Michael and Pejeta. You guys want to introduce yourself?

Michael: Sure, nice to see everybody again, Michael Diffenderfer, I have also been organizing this for a while and it has been one of my one of the things that makes me the happiest for a long time. I have a long look forward to the first Wednesday of the month as one of the happiest days of that month. And I’m glad that we’re finding some way to to really bring it back and bring it back stronger.

Vijeta: Cool. Hi, I’m Vijeta Belandor. I’m also a designer, and this will be my first time organizing with Cliff and Michael have been attending amUX before COVA time. So this will be something super exciting for me to actually participate in and help organize. Thank you,

Cliff: Cliff. Awesome, thanks. Yeah, and one thing that we’re kind of excited about is like on top of reintroducing ourselves as co organizers, one of the things that we’re also going to be talking through here is that we want amUX to be more collaborative. So we’re really looking for opportunities to include more folks. We had kind of taken the approach before of like we can really reproduce this event really minimally. We don’t need too much extra effort and energy around it. Let’s just reproduce it and keep it going so that it’s really predictable and people really know what they’re getting. And I think there was a lot of value in doing that. But we really want to reflect more of the inclusiveness of this community and make sure that we have more opportunities for people to pitch in, but also to give feedback. And so that’s going to be kind of a big thing about what we’re going to talk about for the next few minutes. Basically, we want to talk to us, the community, and present some of the things that we’re doing that are new or some changes that we’re making. And we’re kind of requesting your consideration and thoughts and feedback and if you’re willing, further participation. So we want to kind of walk you through that from here.

Cliff: And so I’m going to I’m going to start, but we’re going to be tossing it around a bit going forward. And there’s there’s a lot of stuff to cover. But I think you’ll see it’s all part of one big theme where we don’t just want amUX to be something that happens that we’re grateful for. We want it to be something that’s actively an example to anyone else running a community or a meetup or a conference so that we can show how we can be inclusive and accessible and equitable to people both physically and digitally and honestly help set an example for other people who might think it’s too difficult. We want to show that it’s not. And we’re going to show that not only by kind of what we’re planning on doing, but by trying to be open and get everyone’s feedback to make sure we’re listening to everybody and being really thoughtful. So I want to kind of start off with the big idea that we have, and that’s that we want amUX to be a fully inclusive, fully accessible meetup and community in Atlanta. And we want to serve as that model and resource for similar efforts, like I said, for other design communities and events. So here’s kind of a big overview of what we’ve done so far since we met last.

Cliff: First of all, and this is literally true, we did an actual complete audit of amUX of all the way from the physical event space, which which has been switchyard so far. We currently have no plans to change that, although we’ll talk about physical meetings a little bit later. But we’ve we’ve audited the literal event space that we meet and we’ve audited the audio equipment in the space that we’re in to think about how people are able to hear and understand and ask questions. Right. We’ve audited our whole meet up planning process down to how we select and ask speakers to come join us, to how we enable them to be speakers at the event, to how we manage the question and answers and all that stuff. Afterwards, we’ve broken down and audited the website itself, We’ve audited Meetup as a way for us to allow RSVP and announce events and all that stuff. We listed out basically every conceivable way that we could improve the exclusivity and accessibility both for physical and now digital events as well. So we went through, we did that whole big audit. We got lots of really positive feedback. When I say positive feedback, I mean really helpful feedback from experts in running inclusive events, running accessible websites, doing accessible digital online events.

Cliff: And so we’ve asked a lot of people already and tried to get a lot of feedback there. And now we’re going to need your feedback to move it forward and make sure we’ve really got everything. And so one other thing we wanted to mention as well, related to some of the physical event space and things that we’ve done in the meantime, we were able to, thanks to our sponsor, go ahead and get some more audio visual gear so that when we are meeting in person physically again of that, we not only have like a more reliable audio experience, like we want to make sure that the voices are clear, that that everyone is able to utilize the microphone, that everyone is able to hear when they’re in the room, that we can ask questions in a way where everyone can participate. And then also we got that equipment to make sure that we could start streaming these events to really, again, push further into exclusivity and equity, because we want to make sure people can attend no matter where they are, even people outside Atlanta, even while we focus on being like a community inside the city in particular, Michael.

Michael: Thanks for that, Cliff. So we talked a lot about what we’re going to do, but I want to cover a little bit of what’s changing and what what what we’re going to keep, because the fundamentals of this really are going to stay the same. There’s a lot of goodness in what we’ve built together and what we should continue to be able to do together. And we’ll still meet at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, the first Wednesday of the month. And we’re still planning to meet physically, but time to mingle that switch yards when it’s safe. We may not choose to meet monthly that we haven’t decided for sure yet. Our goal is really to make each event valuable for everyone, even if that means getting every other meeting every other month or quarterly. We will still have a thoughtful, diverse speakers and panels. That has always been something that we want to hold to and will never go away. We’re still here to learn about all aspects of user experience from many different voices and perspectives We will continue to abide by some previously unspoken rules. that we are now putting down more concretely. We don’t invite marginalized people to speak about being marginalized and there will be no panels made entirely of men or entirely of white folks. This literally would not represent our city and we would be a very poor steward of our community if that’s what we were doing. So it changes really aimed to maximize the safety and well-being of every single member of our community, whether they’re joining us in person or online. We will be publishing and enforcing a simple but direct code of conduct for the community that we have not personally gotten the feedback that anyone felt uncomfortable at an antioxidant. We know that statistically that can’t be the case and everyone should feel safe. That index. We’re also going to open up a community for amUX for a number of reasons. And the code of conduct conduct will be enforced there as well. Whenever possible, we will give everyone a chance to express their preferred pronouns and we encourage everyone to participate. The other.

Vijeta: Thanks, Michael. I’ll be talking a little bit about the event. So we’ll be working with the event space to ensure physical accessibility and see the this will not be perfect, but we want to achieve as much as we can and communicate clearly about the rest beyond ADA compliance. We’ll be working with the event space to ensure a positive experience for every person with a disability, whether they’re an attendee or a presenter. Ideally, restrooms are accessible and are generally gender neutral. It’s not easy to find those in the South. So our aim is to clearly communicate what attendees can expect. We’ll also give clearer guidance on our coffee and food options so that those with food sensitivities have the information that they need Well be streaming and recording our events moving forward.. We’re still nailing down the logistics, but our aim is to provide an accessible experience to all attendees, whether they are able to attend in person or not. We plan to provide live captions and video transcripts.. We plan to publicize videos on or with permission from the presenter, of course, of being updated to be able to see HD two point one a compliance. We’re also looking to Ufuk have a Q&A channel ensuring attendees and presenters can continue discussing in whatever format works best. We’ll also be improving the experience for speakers and panelists. We are eternally grateful to everyone who has shared with the community over the last several years. We want to make the experience even more inviting and valuable when sharing the stage area and equipment are accessible. For instance, we’ll have a wireless mic and an adjustable mikes. Then to continue being a positive space for new speakers, will be available as core organizers to review and discuss the presentation ahead of time, if that’s desired. And we also really a lot of first time presenters. So hand it over to Michael.

Michael: So we have been very thoughtful about this and we have sought out a lot of feedback on what we hope to do and plan to do. But we still really want your feedback as well. You are the community and we need to be sure that we are being representative and respectful of all of us. So with that, we’ve opened up some new ways for you to contribute and participate in amUX first, right after this. We’re going to be taking questions on what we’ve covered and really would love to hear from you. If for some reason you don’t feel comfortable asking questions or getting feedback. In this forum, we invite you to direct message one or all of the organizers, and we value everyone’s feedback and the community and we’ll never shut you down. If you have something to say, we will be sharing the code of conduct that I mentioned previously and other information Now/Soon. And we’ll be soliciting feedback on that as well.

Cliff: Yeah, we’ll make sure that actually that code of conduct is linked up both in slack and we’ll make sure after this recording that we give an appropriate link for it in the meeting as well, because that’s that’s part of why we wanted to make the website accessible and ensure that it’s accessible across the board, not only so that we can show presentations and give everybody a chance to kind of have their their content shown off and have a good recording, hopefully, but also to be a reliable place for people to find not only the code of conduct, but also what we’re currently framing is frequently asked questions which are like an important enumeration of accommodations for folks in other details that you might want to know, just basic stuff you want to know before you enter a physical space for the first time especially. But we also want to be communicating as much as we can that anyone who wants to be involved can and that they know exactly what they’re getting into before they ever hop into a Zune call or walk into a room. Where were the events taking place? So going forward, if you’re interested in co organizing, if you’re interested in speaking and presenting, if you’re interested in helping with something like live captioning or doing a live sign language or helping run the streaming or the recording or contributing to our social channels, please get in touch with us. Like I said, we have previously tried to kind of minimize all of the extracurriculars around amUX just to focus on making it simple and repeatable. And while we’re we’re happy more or less with, I guess, the choices that we’ve made in the past, we really want to open this up and see what this community looks like when we give it more of an opportunity or an opportunity to be collaborative.

Cliff: So if you’re interested in any of those things that we talked about, please get in touch with us on CELAC or message us through Meetup. We would love to help you find a path to involvement, especially now that we have more of a need for it, trying to really run these events digitally and run them. Well, we really want to make it an experience that anybody can hop into and feel really positive about. And so overall, our aim, like we’ve said, is to be really open and responsive moving forward. We will not get everything right. And that’s part of what we mean by setting an example for other people. We’re coming right out and saying our first step here is to go back to the community and ask, are we doing the right things and are we on the right track with these? And if we’re not, let’s work out a way to be doing more of the right thing, because there’s no way for us to guess it right to begin with. And instead, we want to take a guess in public and be really open and responsive to that feedback. And so we hope personally that you’ll join us with the intention to make a fantastic space out of amUX for every human being who wants to be involved in a place where you can ask questions and and feel comfortable and safe, having conversations and getting any information that you might need if you would like to give feedback anonymously today, like Michael said, not only after this, are we going to make sure that there’s time for live questions and discussions.

Cliff: We’re also going to make sure that slack is a place for you to ask questions and have discussions. But obviously, both of those kind of identify you. If you would like to give us feedback anonymously, honestly, for any reason moving forward, you can use the anonymous feedback form on We’re going to link that up in Slack here and a bit. And we’re also going to make sure that you can find that just by going to and looking for the correct place in the menu, we’re going to leave that to where obviously you can submit that feedback and not have it tied to an email address or a name or anything like that. So worth mentioning there that if you do get in touch with us that way, we can’t respond to you directly for very good reason. But please know that we’re taking it very seriously and we’re providing this outlet, again, as a way to make sure that we’re being inclusive of everyone who wants to be involved and give feedback and give give thoughts and be a part of this community. So awesome. Thank you so much for hearing us out on all this. We really look forward to your questions and talking to you more about this. Michael and Vidana, anything you want to say before we go?

Vijeta: I’m just super excited about this.

Michael: I’m very happy to be back.

Cliff: Yeah. Awesome. Well, we’ll see you guys in a minute.

Michael: Thanks so much.